St. Francis makes appearance in stations at St. Mary’s Chapel

Editor’s note: Part two of our seven-part Lenten series on the Stations of the Cross features the stations inside St. Mary’s Chapel, located at the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc. Sr. Caritas Strodthoff, community archivist, nominated the sisters’ Stations of the Cross and provided the following information.

The third station at St. Mary’s Chapel, located at the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc, is titled “Weakened” and shows Jesus falling the first time. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)

Our chapel, St. Mary’s Chapel, located in our motherhouse, has a very unique and beautiful set of stations. They are original, wooden, bas-relief paintings of each of the stations. The wood, the design, the painting were all done by one of our artist-sisters, Sr. Victoria Masil. They have a 3-D component to them. What makes them really unique? Each of the stations has the image of St. Francis of Assisi painted into the wood of the station.

The paintings are Sr. Victoria’s reflections of how Francis may have experienced the Passion. St. Francis of Assisi had great devotion to Jesus crucified and asked that the devotion be a special part of the life of every Franciscan. He identified with our Lord’s sufferings to such an extent that he was gifted with the marks of the Passion, the Stigmata.

Sr. Victoria attempted to portray Francis’ love by placing him as a figure in each one of the stations. The 15th station is expressed in these paintings by superseding the triumph of the Holy Cross over the burial in the 14th station.

In the fourth station, titled “Anguished,” in which Jesus meets his mother, St. Francis of Assisi is pictured at right. The stations “are Sr. Victoria’s reflection of how Francis may have experienced the Passion,” writes Sr. Caritas Strodthoff. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)

Here are excerpts from an article in the Manitowoc Herald-Times Reporter, March 6, 1985: “The individual figures were cut with a jigsaw, sanded, pieced together, painted and glued to a plywood background measuring 25 by 39 inches for each station.  The expression on Jesus’ face at each station is different and each station carries the image of St. Francis following in the footsteps of Christ.”

We published a booklet called The Stations of the Cross with St. Francis that depicts each of the stations along with an associated short Scripture reading, then words of St. Francis, and last a short personal reflection sentence.

Visitors who would like to view the Stations in their entirety can contact Sr. Caritas to make arrangements. Call (920) 973-9814 or email: [email protected].